HBOMax's new show, The Last of Us, has a lot of people talking about fungus among us.
Fortunately for us – consuming cordyceps does not lead to parasitic and brain-controlling fungal infections that turn humans into flesh-hungry, erratic zombies. The opposite could be said!
Multiple studies have shown that cordyceps mushrooms may help address various health problems and help boost overall health – from a boost in aerobic capacity to increased energy.
So are you considering taking cordyceps daily to support optimum health? Keep reading below to find out precisely what cordyceps is, why cordyceps is one of Dr. Weil's favorite medicinal mushrooms, the health benefits that have been studied, and what to look for in a cordyceps supplement.
What is cordyceps?
Cordyceps is actually a genus of fungi originally found on caterpillars in the mountainous regions of China that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Wild vs. Lab-Grown cordyceps | Cordyceps militaris or sinensis?
So there are two types of cordyceps you can take – cordyceps militaris or cordyceps sinensis. It's essential to understand the differences between Cordyceps sinensis vs. militaris to ensure you're getting the best Cordyceps benefits possible.
What is Wild Cordyceps Sinensis? Caterpillar Fungus
The wild variety – cordyceps sinensis – is very rare due to being grown in very few regions in the world and on the caterpillar of a specific type of moth – the hepialus. When found in the wild, cordyceps mushrooms will be above the ground level surface with the body of the insect on the ground below.
Wild cordyceps is mainly grown at high elevations in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, and a handful of provinces of China.
The scarcity of wild cordyceps has resulted in a very high price tag – around $20,000 per KG – making it the most expensive mushroom in the world. And you thought truffles were expensive!
The exceptionally high price tag of the cordyceps sinensis is due to the fact that Chinese scientists have yet been able to cultivate this mushroom at a production scale.
Keep in mind that despite having caterpillars and cordyceps sinensis on labels, most cordyceps supplements do not contain wild cordyceps.
Instead, they have cordyceps militaris.
What is Cordyceps militaris? Lab-made medicinal mushrooms
The cordyceps militaris variety can be commercially cultivated at scale and doesn't require any insects. It also doesn't carry the same high price as its wild counterpart – making it a prevalent variety to use in cordyceps supplements. It has become a mainstream alternative to cordyceps sinensis in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Cordyceps militaris can be grown in a sterile, controlled medium. Plus, it is a super-charged-up version of wild cordyceps. Wild cordyceps have this super healthful producing component known as cordycepin (3;-deoxyadenosine) – but cordyceps militaris contain more.
According to studies, the Cordyceps militaris variety contains 90x the amount of health-supporting cordycepin than the wild variety.
What form of cordyceps is best? Looking for the best cordyceps supplements
When shopping for a good cordyceps supplement, you want to find one using the cordyceps militaris variety and find a product that is pure and potent.
Make sure that your cordyceps militaris supplement label specifically states it's made from the actual fruiting body of a mushroom – and not the mycelium. Mycelium-grain supplements have a much lower amount of healthful compounds.
You also want to look for a label on your supplement body that includes beta-glucan content. This is because beta-glucan is essential to helping activate the health-boosting effects of cordyceps.
What do cordyceps do for the body? 9 Health Benefits of cordyceps
When taken in supplement form, cordyceps health benefits may include:
- Improved physical performance
- Reduced physical fatigue
- Anti-aging effects
- Immune boosting and anti-inflammation properties (asthma in mice)
- Better brain function
- Improved sex drive
- Potential antitumor properties
- Helping manage type 2 diabetes
- Heart health benefits | Lower cholesterol levels
How long will it take to feel benefits from cordyceps?
Studies have found that results may be seen in as little as one week of consuming cordyceps daily. However, even more benefits are seen with a regular daily dose after a few weeks.
How often should you take cordyceps? Recommended cordyceps dosage
So how much cordyceps should be taken daily?
Since the health benefits of taking cordyceps increase over time, it's generally advised to be taken once daily.
Cordyceps is most often used by adults in doses of 3-6 grams by orally for several months to up to 1 year. A moderate dose of 2g (or 2,000mg) is the amount often recommend for daily use by experts, though some people may even double up for the first two weeks.
The thought is, this allows their bodies to more readily establish a beneficial profile and speed up the medicinal mushroom health boost process.
However, it's important to note that there needs to be more understanding of the safety of these mushrooms when taken for an extended period over a year.
Can you have too many cordyceps?
Overdose with cordyceps has not been reported. Cordyceps has been tested on animals and humans at various dosages and found to be safe even at many times the clinical dose.
Long-term human trials on cordyceps have yet to be completed, so researchers are not confident in its long-term use for over a year.
Precautions and warnings on cordyceps | What are the possible Side effects of cordyceps?
When taken orally, cordyceps are generally safe for most people when taken in the doses studied of 1-6 grams daily for up to a year.
There have been some reports of cordyceps causing some mild side effects, such as:
- stomach aches and discomfort
Who shouldn't take cordyceps?
Bleeding disorders: Taking cordyceps could thin blood, which slows down bloot clotting and may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals with disorders.
If you are having surgery, taking cordyceps could increase your risk of bleeding. Therefore, you should stop taking cordyceps at least two weeks before any major surgery.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also avoid cordyceps, as there isn't enough research on the side effects.
If you have an auto-immune disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis, taking cordyceps may cause your immune system to become more active – which could increase systems of an auto-immune disease.
If you have an auto-immune condition, it's best to avoid cordyceps and talk to your healthcare provider about alternatives.
It's also not recommended you take cordyceps if you have cancer or diabetes.
Do cordyceps interact with any medications?
Talk to your healthcare provider before regularly taking cordyceps if you are on any medications, such as antiplatelet drugs, immunosuppressants, or testosterone. It would be best to be cautious with combinations that could decrease the effects of drugs or increase the risk of bleeding or bruising.
Different ways to prepare and take cordyceps
How do you take cordyceps?
Often more difficult to find and usually expensive, fresh and raw cordyceps are referred to as 'Himalayan Gold.' Just remember to get the benefits of raw or fresh cordyceps mushrooms, you need to break down the outer layer of chitin using heat.
You can prepare fresh cordyceps by:
Steeping cordyceps in tea: You can take your fresh wild or lab-grown cordyceps and throw them into the water to boil for a few minutes. Then lower your temperature and allow your water and cordyceps to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and enjoy the tea by combining with another tea such as matcha, adding honey, or enjoy plain.
Cook with cordyceps: Like other mushroom varieties, such as oysters or shiitakes, cordyceps can be easily incorporated into a meal. Some popular modes of preparation include pastas, soups, and vegetarian tacos.
Cordyceps can also be taken in the form of:
Cordyceps drops: Cordyceps drops can be administered under your tongue, where your mouth can soak in the extract's healthful benefits. Cordyceps extract can be made through alcohol (tinctures), cold-pressed, or hot water.
Cordyceps powder and supplements: Cordyceps can also be taken in the form of powdered extracts or capsules that can be taken with a swig of water or combined with food and mixed into smoothies.
The super benefits of combining cordyceps with matcha tea
Cordyceps combined with matcha may help deliver a super boost of energy when you need it most and help fight fatigue linked to physical exertion. In addition, both Cordyceps and green tea are packed with antioxidants and anti-carcinogen, which help delay the aging process and also help regulate gut health.
The bottom line: Cordyceps have a huge amount of Pharmacological and therapeutic potential.
Whether you are looking to fight fatigue or powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, cordyceps may be exactly what your daily routine is missing to put you into the next gear.
With several convenient ways to incorporate cordyceps supplements into your day – there is no reason not to give it a try – especially when it combines so well with the benefits of matcha green tea.
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